BlackBerry smartphone email, texting and Internet services were back to normal Thursday after four days of outages around the world.
Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of Research In Motion (TSX:RIM), the company behind the popular smartphone device, said Thursday that services have been fully restored.
“All the services are back up globally,” he said on a conference call to discuss the outage, alongside co-CEO Jim Balsillie in a rare appearance of both executives together.
Millions of users around the world have been affected by the company’s biggest service outage, which began on Monday and lasted until early Thursday.
“You should know we are taking immediate and aggressive steps to prevent this from happening again,” said Lazaridis.
“We’re committed to restoring the trust of our loyal BlackBerry customers that we’ve worked hard to earn over the years.”
RIM has about 70 million BlackBerry subscribers around the world. Technical problems linked to switching problems affected services for millions of customers throughout the week.
Outages started in Europe, then spread to the Middle East, Africa and hit Canada on Wednesday. Parts of South America, as well as Asian markets including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and India, were also affected.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based tech company faced a barrage of criticism from some users as the outage stretched from hours into days.
Lazaridis launched a public campaign on Thursday to apologize for the lengthy outage, speaking on the conference call and posting a video to the YouTube website promising further updates.
The scripted video, in which Lazaridis spoke directly to the camera while wearing a black polo shirt emblazoned with the BlackBerry logo, was the first instance in which one of the company’s co-CEOs has appeared publicly to address the outage.
The two executives quickly scheduled a conference call afterwards that was accessible to both the media and the public through the company’s website.
Co-CEO Balsillie said in that call that the outage has nothing to do with the company scaling back its workforce. RIM recently cut more than 2,000 jobs.
He also noted that compensation to smartphone carriers was a discussion that “was not the priority.”
“People understand the complexity of these systems and when something like this happens everybody pulls together because it’s all about serving the customers,” Balsillie said.
“Everybody has been 100 per cent focused on getting the system up and flowing and stable and this has not been the discussion — not one sentence.”
RIM has long been criticized for keeping customers in the dark over the status of its technical problems, but the dual video and conference call marked a significant change in the way it operates.
“We know that you want to hear more from us and we’re working to update you more frequently through our websites and social media channels as we gather more information,” Lazaridis told users in the YouTube video.
The length of the outage has bruised Research In Motion’s reputation for reliability and could give consumers and businesses another reason to switch to Apple or Android devices.
RIM had initially assured customers that its systems were back to normal after an outage affected Europe on Monday, but instead the problems spread to other countries, and eventually most of the world.
Wireless carriers around the world were affected and there were reports that some carriers, such as Britain’s Vodafone, could ask RIM for compensation.
RBC capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said the outages hurt RIM in key foreign markets where it’s still growing.
“Inexpensive, fast, private, reliable messaging is one of the primary considerations for BlackBerry buyers in these markets, and the anger generated by these outages could drive some consumers to evaluate alternative smartphones from Android or Apple,” Abramsky said in a research note.
Shares in Research In Motion were down 55 cents to $23.72 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.